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Prepare your Ritchie Waterer for Winter

With proper installation, Ritchie automatic waterers are designed to withstand the coldest winters and have a great reputation for reliability. However, with anything that is exposed to the elements 100% of the time and around livestock, some general maintenance will ensure that the unit functions all winter long.

While the weather is warm, take time to go through this general maintenance checklist for your heated Ritchie waterer.

Step 1. Test your heaters

How to test your heaters:

Even though the current weather is above freezing, testing your heaters can be done in a few short steps shown below.

Heat standard units (OmniFount, EcoFount, CattleMaster, Pork King, Heated Stall Fount, Classic Equine by Ritchie Ultrafounts)

1. Ensure your electricity is on to the unit

2. Pour a bucket of ice into the trough area. This will cool the water enough to trigger the disc thermostat to turn the heaters on. The heaters on the underside of the trough and the cable heater around the valve will all become noticeably warm, almost too hot to the touch.

If your heaters do not turn on, follow the steps above one more time to ensure your trough cooled enough to trigger the thermostat. Once it has been determined that the heaters are not functioning, see the scenarios below to find the parts that you are needing to replace.

Units with optional heat (WaterMatic, Thrifty King Series, WaterMaster, Classic Equine by Ritchie AutoFount)

Per the manufacturers recommendation, it is best to remove the immersion heater when not in use and stored in a dry area. If your heater is still in your waterer - remove and clean debris and deposits that have accumulated. Follow the steps below using a bucket of ice.

Options for testing are below.

  • Plug the heater into a wall socket and immerse into a bucket of ice water. This will trigger the thermostat and the heater should turn on.

  • Place heater in a freezer for 10-15 minutes. Once cold to the touch, remove and plug into a wall outlet. This should trigger the thermostat and turn the heater on.

If your heater does not turn on, it is best to replace with a new unit.

NOTE: If you live in an area that has long periods with freezing temperatures, a Self Regulating Heat Cable is strongly recommended to protect your valve and water line from freezing. These heaters are extremely reliable and will need to be checked once the temperatures reach below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2 - Check the sealant

Check the all-weather sealant around the base of the unit and the concrete pad. Ensure there are no gaps where air can penetrate the underside of the unit. Replace the all-weather sealant if needed.

Step 3 - Verify that the riser tube is clear

Remove the side access panel on most units (remove top of Thrifty King) to verify that the waterline is not touching the side of the riser tube or side of the unit. Frost will travel from one object to the next. Centering your waterline will prevent frost from potentially freezing your line.

Step 4 - Clean the Unit

The last thing you will want to do during the winter is clean the unit. Removing debris now will help to provide a clean drinking environment and ensure you have proper heat transfer to the entire trough.


Replacing the heating components

Through testing, you have determined that some or all of your heaters are not working in your heated waterer. Below is a list of scenarios and replacement parts that will help you ensure your waterer is functioning this upcoming winter.

1. Heater(s) on the trough is working but the cable heater around the valve is not turning on. All of the heaters in the heat standard units are wired through the thermostat. If your cable heater is not working but the other trough heaters are, it is time to replace the cable heater. This will help prevent your valve and water supply from freezing.

2. The cable heater working but trough heater is not becoming hot. All of the heaters in the heat standard units are wired through the thermostat. If your trough heater is not working but the cable heater around the valve is, it is time to replace the trough heater(s). This will give added protection to the stainless steel trough and prevent it from freezing.

3. No heaters are turning on. In most cases, this would indicate that your thermostat needs to be replaced. Ensure your electric is on to the unit. It If this is the case, it is best to replace all components to have confidence that they will function all winter long.

If you have further questions or need assistance, email us at or call us direct at 800-373-5834


To find your heaters - Visit our online store.

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